Hinckley’s dismal run of away form continued at Dore Lane on Saturday when Hornets succumbed to spirited Tigers side who were looking to amend for a disappointing defeat to bottom of the table Peterborough the previous Saturday. Two tries against a single Joe Wilson penalty for Hornets settled the matter in what was another disappointing away performance from the men in black and amber.
In truth, given the conditions, it was never going to be a classic and there was still a doubt as to whether the game would go ahead up to an hour before kick-off. Freezing rain, a bitingly cold wind, and light conditions that could at best be described as dim had driven the majority of the crowd indoors well before the final whistle, and there was general agreement amongst the crowd that this was a day when you would have preferred not to be picked.
That said, Hinckley never looked like winning the game and hardly threatened the Tigers line for the whole 80 minutes. Hornets looked like a side who expected to lose and who simply wanted to get it over with. It didn’t help that they continued to try to play the wide expansive game they prefer when conditions dictated that numbers 11 to 15 should have been somewhat superfluous but what was more noticeable was the contrast between their demeanour and approach at home, when they are near invincible, and away, when they look like a team giving the opposition a run out.
Hinckley are a quality side and, for all their travails on the road, they still remain in third place in the division but until they overcome what is fast becoming a mental block about travelling, they will continue to under-achieve.
DOR George Chuter summed up the game well in his post match comments. ‘We didn’t play the conditions well and consequently struggled to keep possession and sustain any pressure on the opposition. Tigers were much the better side on the day and thoroughly deserved the win.’
Hinckley were behind after only 8 minutes when a clever chip over the top on halfway by Tigers fly-half Mark Ireland was recovered by Tigers and fed out to the wing where Jamie Broadley ran in to touch down in the corner. A superb kick in the conditions by Ireland added the extras to give Tigers a 7-0 lead.
With Hinckley struggling for possession, Tigers went close again as the first quarter drew to a close but, having secured a line-out 5m out, they were penalised for accidental off-side as Hornets did not engage at the maul. Tigers were penalised at the resultant scrum for wheeling and Wilson kicked Hornets up to halfway.
Shortly after, Wilson registered Hinckley’s only points of the game when Tigers were penalised in front of their own posts on the 22m line and the Hornets’ full back comfortably slotted the kick.
Tigers though responded immediately. A double knock-on from the kick-off gave Tigers a scrum on the Hinckley 22m. The ball was won cleanly, and after a couple of pick and drives, found it’s way out wide where Tigers found themselves with a 2 man overlap and touched down in the same corner. Ireland couldn’t repeat his earlier kick to claim the extras.
Wilson did have a chance to pull 3 back for Hornets from 40m when Tigers were penalised for collapsing a scrum but the kick went wide and Hornets were 12-3 down at the break.
The second half yielded little to get excited about for either side. Joe Wilson missed what would normally have been a straight-forward penalty for him from the 22m on 45 minutes and shortly afterwards Tigers No. 8 Tom Callandine was invited by the referee to take a short break for going over the top at a ruck.
Hinckley though could not take advantage and the rest of the game fell into a mundane pattern. Hornets would find themselves defending their own line, recover possession, attempt to break out only to lose the ball allowing Tigers to again pin Hornets back in their own half.
To be fair, Mitch Lamb did almost break the shackles with an excellent run out of defence on 68 minutes but the opportunity was lost when Hornets were penalised at the ruck, and Hinckley went close when James Moreton picked up a loose ball on halfway and unleashed Jamie Skerritt who was brought down 10m out and the ball was lost.
Other than that it was tedious stuff. Tigers simply did what they needed to do to hold onto their lead and Hornets could not break out. It was something of a relief when the referee brought proceedings to an end and all concerned could retire to the Clubhouse to warm-up.
Next week, Hornets host bottom club Peterborough Lions at Leicester Road. A sizable crowd is expected for the Christmas festivities and the hope is for a convincing win to round off 2018.
Updated 22:45 - 16 Dec 2018 by Nick Robinson